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29.9.08

H2O interview


With "Nothing To Prove" H2O released an incredibly fun album, their first for Bridge Nine. If you haven't heard it yet, go pick it up now... I promise you won't regret it. Here's an email interview we did with vocalist Toby. I didn't edit it because i'm a lazy fuck but it's fun nonetheless. To make up for my laziness I added the video for "What Happened"!

PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself??
Toby: Toby Morse, singer of h20 and a sxe dad!

PRT: I don't think there are many HC bands around that have had the same line-up for as long as you have and who have that family vibe going on as strongly as you guys do. What?s your secret? And what?s one thing about the other guys that can drive you crazy?
Toby: no secret. We just love each other like brothers and we can all get on each other's nerves alot actually like bickering brothers but thats normal,yah know? Todd Friend my drummer sleeps too much and is always still tired,,fuck hahahah

PRT: So seven years since the last album huh? How have you guys been keeping busy??
Toby: yep working,being a dad,hazen street and juliette ands the licks,rusty has jewelry busy etc

PRT: I know you're spread out all over the country between California and New York? does that make it harder to work on new material or does it help to keep things fresh??
Toby: def does thats why it took us 7yrs to make 20 songs hahahah we just would mp3 songs to each other or when we were together would get in studio and demo songs etc its a pretty easy process actually.

PRT: Congratulations with the new album"Nothing To Prove" is amazing. You've said it isn't a comeback album but if you look at the title and the fact that it's been so long since your last album, isn't it a common mistake that people make?
Toby: thanxxx,i mean its def us coming back to make a album after 7yrs and yes i think its our best album in 7yrs hahaha but i mean as far as a comeback i feel like the response and the reviews are saying that and we appreciate it alot for sure.

PRT: My favorite song on the new album has to be "What Happened". Have you already come up with a solution to turn the fashion punk syndrome around?
Toby: thanks,hahahah not yet,its more of us letting kids know how it was for us when we first went to shows etc

PRT: There's a whole bunch of guests on the album. Did you pick them specifically for a certain song or are they friends that showed up at the right time at the right place?
Toby: i just thought their voices would sound good on certain songs and mp3 them to them to sing something on and it worked out,so happy with all of the songs though for sure and everyone did great jobs!

PRT: "Go" wasn't received as well as your other albums. how do you look back on that now? And on the whole major label episode?
Toby: "go" was our fasting selling album ever actually. The major label was cool just a different push that we had and more money to record the album and too much time.We could've made the GO songs sound just as raw and live if chad gilbert produced those same songs hahah you live and you learn though,no regrets.

PRT: The new album is your first on Bridge Nine. It seems to me that bands are better off nowadays on a well-known indie label like that rather than a major. Would you agree with that?
Toby: def man, major labels now are like dinosaurs they stuck in their old ways of releasing music and they are not about the artist's best interests. b9 has been good to us so far,we're happy!

PRT: Some of you are married and have kids now. Have you ever read "Punk Rock Dad" by Pennywise's Jim Lindberg? If so, how true does it ring?
Toby: haven't read it yet,but jim's gonna be interviewing me next month for a video he's doing about it so that's cool.

PRT: What are the chances of Pink doing a duet with you guys on her or your next album?
Toby: ahahhaahaha not likely.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Toby: thanks for the support on new album and we appreciate kids not forgetting about us etc and we will see you soon again! peace


Joey Cape – Bridge


When Joey Cape released an acoustic split with No Use For A Name’s Tony Sly a couple of years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. I kinda figured it would be a one time deal because after all, he did seem a bit busy with Lagwagon, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Bad Astronaut and the zillion other projects he is/was involved in. But then “Bridge” pops up in the mail and all of a sudden I’m listening to Joey Cape’s first acoustic full-length.
Not all of the songs here are new because five of them recently appeared on Lagwagon’s recent EP as well which is somewhat a shame. Especially because those tracks aren’t the best ones on “Bridge”. That title is reserved for tracks like “Canoe”, “Non Sequitur” and “Who We’ve Become”.
If Cape still had anything left to prove, he has more than made his point with “Bridge”. Should Lagwagon ever call it a day, then he still has a promising career as a singer/songwriter ahead of him.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.badtasterecords.se
http://www.myspace.com/joeycape

Metallica – Death Magnetic


The new Metallica album. For metalheads this is actually bigger news than who will win the presidential elections in the US. Those are the same fans that stood by the band when they released mediocre albums such as “Load”, “Reload”, bawled their eyes out in the documentary “Some Kind Of Monster” and then finished things off with the musical atrocity that is “St. Anger”.
Just when I think pretty much everyone was going to give up on them, the good news came. Hetfield, Ulrich, the man with the moustache and that bass-playing beast rediscovered their thrash roots, kicked Bob Rock out of the producer chair and welcomed Rick Rubin. Together they would record an album that would show the world that these guys still were the one and only kings of metal. Hell, they even brought the old logo back!
So they re-recorded “One” and called it “The Day That Never Comes”. They wrote ten songs which all wear out their welcome before they come to an end, including the 10-minute instrumental “Suicide & Redemption”. The third chapter of “The Unforgiven” was created and serves no point at all and Kirk Hammett was given a bonus for every single solo in which he could play 1 000 000 000 million notes in under 15 seconds.
There is good news as well though. The drums no longer sound like trash cans. Or in Metallica’s case… thrash cans (haha) and “Broken, Beat & Scarred” prove that they haven’t completely forgotten how to write an exciting song. Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot to drewl about making “Death Magnetic” the musical equivalent of a bottle of wodka from which all of the alcohol has evaporated. Something that Hetfield would’ve never let happen in the old days.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.vertigorecords.co.uk
http://www.metallica.com

Pro-Pain – No End In Sight


For over 15 years Pro-Pain has been cranking out their mix of hardcore and metal and they have been doing a really good job of it even though every album sounded exactly the same. And just when you thought they would never ever play anything else, out comes lucky number thirteen (“No End In Sight”) where the band finally decided to branch out. Not that they suddenly started writing pop music but still…
Opener “Let The Blood Run Through The Streets” and the subsequent “Halo” is still vintage Pro-Pain with Gary Meskil spewing out his political views over a whole lot of chugga chugga chords. But once “Hour Of The Time” kicks in with guest vocals from Böhse Onkelz’ Stephan Weidner, I found myself cringing. This is one song that would’ve been better off on the cutting floor. More musical guests can be heard on “Phoenix Rising” where Rob Barrett (Cannibal Corpse) helps out.
Not all of the experiments are equally cringeworthy though. “To Never Return” for example has a chorus that sounds like there was a double booking in the studio with a powermetal band that decided to make the best of the situation. There’s more clean singing on “No End In Sight” than ever before and it makes for a more diverse album. At the same time though it takes away from Pro-Pain’s bulldozer effect which is kinda what I’ve always liked the most about them.
Not their best album but definitely not their worst either.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.suburban.nl
http://www.pro-pain.com

Amon Amarth – Twilight Of The Thunder God


With Oden probably still on their side, Amon Amarth went into the studio to honor the thunder god. What to expect? Bunch of grown up dudes singing about Vikings, Valhalla and umm, something else that probably starts with a v as well. No, not vagina!

If you are anything like me and feel that the Viking posing is a little ridiculous, you are absolutely right but that doesn’t take away from the fact that these guys know how to write high-quality melodic death metal songs with dual shredding. What it sounds like? Like every other song they’ve ever written. Anyway, here’s a link to the video… feel free to snicker!

Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.metalblade.de
http://www.amonamarth.com

Anima – The Daily Grind


Even though I don’t mind looking at naked ladies on covers of CDs (or anywhere else for that matter), I don’t exactly get all giddy about the somanieth deathcore release. This is a genre that’s nearly completely wasted on me. Technical death metal… it’s all good and well but there’s only so much of it you can take before my sphincter gives out and before it gets repetitive as hell. Mostly, that’s two or three songs into the album. With Anima, I got all the way up to track number eight which I guess is saying something but not enough. Extra points though for choosing the perfect album title… by track 8 it really did feel like the dailty grind.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.metalblade.de
http://www.myspace.com/animamusic666

Overcast – Reborn To Kill Again


I have no idea why this album is being released. Okay, so Overcast boasted two members that have moved on to Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage, two hugely popular bands today. But I don’t see the point in re-recording old metalcore songs in a scene that’s already being flooded with a million albums a year made by bands that are all too often copies of copies of copies.

What’s that? Oh, it’s to show the kids what metalcore was all about originally? Well, go right ahead then… they might actually learn a thing or two.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.metalblade.de
http://www.myspace.com/overcastrocks

The Little Ones – Morning Tide


Getting ditched by your label is never fun. Especially not when you just finished recording your debut album. But it’s a cruel world out there boys and girls. Just ask The Little Ones and they’ll confirm it. When they’re not too busy writing happy-sounding indie pop songs that is.
With melodic guitar licks, bouncy rhythms and big choruses, The Little Ones managed to write a very enjoyable album with a couple of surprises that only make things more fun. Like the Caribbean-tinted “Gergory’s Chant” for instance. I wouldn’t see Death Cab pulling that card but it works for The Little Ones. If I was a cheesy person I’d say that they took the everlasting Californian summer and poured it into an album.
While not quite up there with Death Cab, Nada Surf or The Shins (it is after all their debut full-length), I definitely see the potential here for The Little Ones to become every bit as good as those bands!
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.heavenly100.com
http://www.thelittleones.com

O’Death – Broken Hymns, Limbs And Skin


Broken hymns… a title that covers the load! On their latest album, this bunch of drunks sounds as if they put the old testament in the blender and then started pasting the pieces back together while getting high on the glue in the process.
O’Death hooked up with Alex Newport (Fudge Tunnel, Nailbomb) for this one and it resulted in a chaotic mess where beauty shines through every once in a while (“Home”). That chaotic mess is pretty addictive as well – it’s like listening to a couple of psychotics trying to play bluegrass after having listened to nasty punkrock for 36 hour straight – but I can’t help but wonder that I’ve heard it all before after just a couple of tracks. Doesn’t mean that opener “Lowtide” or “Legs To Sin” didn’t thoroughly kick my ass!
Fans of Two Gallants and Gogol Bordello should give this disc a spin though.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.cityslang.com
http://www.odeath.net

War Of Ages – Arise & Conquer


War Of Ages play that typical metalcore with Gothenburg leanings which is not exactly something that makes you stand out these days. But on album number three they know all the rules in the game and use them expertly. “Arise & Conquer” has everything you can expect to find on a metalcore album including thunderous breakdowns, plenty of angry vocals and guitars shredding like crazy. But there’s also room for guitar solos – I’m loving the hair metal solo in “Salvation” - and superb gang vocals (“Through The Flames”).
They don’t play anything you haven’t heard before but these Pennsylvania dudes did write a very competent album and with a solid production by As I Lay Dying’s Tim Lambesis, there is absolutely nothing wrong with “Arise & Conquer”.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.facedownrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/warofages

TK Webb And The Visions – Ancestor


TK Webb cut his teeth in several bands from the age of 13 onward and never looked back. He also started to play solo acoustic shows at a certain point in time, then added his own band around him and dubbed it TK Webb And The Visions. Et voila, “Ancestor” is the name of that collaboration and it rocks from start to finish.
Think of a bluesy Dinosaur Jr. fiddling around with 70s rock in the middle of the night after having drunk way too much liquor and smoked so much your lungs are starting to wonder what they ever did wrong to their owner.
“Ultimately, we were inspired by the challenge to make a good record that we all liked and could be proud to play for our friends”. Listening to songs like “Year 33” and “”, I can only say that the mission is accomplished.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.kemado.com
http://www.myspace.com/tkwebbandthevisions

18.9.08

P.O.D. – When Angels & Serpents Dance


It’s been very quiet around P.O.D. since the release of 2001’s “Satellite”. Guitarist Marcos Curiel left the band to pursue his side-project and another guitarist was added in his place. They released two more albums filled with their rap/rock/metal fusion with Santana-like excursions on guitar which I have already long since forgotten about. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a band who had score bigtime all over the world with songs like “Youth Of The Nation” and “Alive”.
That’s all about to change though now that Curiel returned to the fold. Or so the biosheet wants me to believe. Because truth is that “When Angels & Serpents Dance” is filled with the kind of repackaged, spineless fluff that’s all over the radio. You can claim otherwise by calling a song “This Ain’t No Ordinary Love Song”… but not when it’s exactly the kind of cheesy ballad one is likely to find on every other mainstream rock album.
Okay, it’s not all bad! “It Can’t Rain Every Day” is a nice quiet song that sits well with me. And “God Forbid” sounds a little heavier than most of the songs on here but that’s probably thanks to Helmet’s Page Hamilton more than anything else. It’s just that I’ve heard what these guys can do and it’s a lot better than what they display on “When Angels & Serpents Dance”.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.cookingvinyl.com
http://www.payableondeath.com

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Cipher


Southern gothic. Tales of salvation and brimstone. Equal parts Iggy Pop and Johnny Cash. Yup, this has to be the new Slim Cessna’s Auto Club album. Most of the songs here sound like they are used every week in a revival meeting somewhere where people don’t speak unless it’s in tongues.
Slim’s religious fervor might not be for everyone but there’s no denying that the songs on “Cipher” are of a very high quality and extremely suited to whip everybody listening into a frenzy. The album is divided into four parts (arms, legs, teeth, faith), each of which is introduced by the recurring theme “An Introduction To The Power Of Braces”) while the rest of the album is comprised of songs that all have Pentecostal energy in common.
It’s probably too late to save my soul but I’ll be damned (hmmm, wrong choice of words?) if that’s gonna stop me from listening to “Cipher”!
Score: out of 10
http://www.alternativetentacles.com
http://www.slimcessnasautoclub.com

Sharks And Sailors – Builds Brand New


Sharks And Sailors is a Houston, TX-based outfit who already garnered a little bit of buzz with the release of their 2006 debut EP and who are ready now to be even buzzier with their debut full-length “Builds Brand New”. I doubt you’ll see them on TRL anytime soon but their shoegazing indierock has some strong selling points.

For one there’s the way they glue sharp, angular parts to more fluent pieces. Then there’s the way they throw extremely mellow parts in with noisier bits and get away with it. The male/female vocal interaction between Melissa Lonchambon and Michael Rollin is another trait I like about Sharks And Sailors. It all helps to make “Builds Brand New” a very dynamic album that’s accessible enough to get into straight away but will taken a couple of listens to fully sink in.

They don’t sound like a lot of other bands I’ve come across in the recent past and seeing as they haven’t joined any of the more recent hypes, that’s probably also the reason they don’t have a label backing them up just yet. With the release of “Builds Brand New”, I think that’s gonna change though! In the meantime check out their site for more info on how to get the album.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.sharksandsailors.com

James Yorkston – When The Haar Rolls In


Just like the haar (a mist that rolls into Scotland from the North Sea), James Yorkston’s songs roll gently in your ears and find a home there. And just like a mist that spreads itself out over the Scottish countryside, the music on the folkie’s fourth album is beautiful.
James Yorkston is one of those singer/songwriters that somehow hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves just yet. Every single album simply keeps getting better compared to the last one. I’m thinking he deserves a “Good Will Hunting” like Elliott Smith so more people would finally catch on to this modern troubadour.
With a warm and pleasant voice, Yorkston strums away on his guitar while the rest of his Athletes fill in the blanks with harp, vibraphone, cello, harmonica and viola. Nancy Elisabeth helps out with backing vocals on a couple of songs, making them even more beautiful. Which is saying a lot. And while all nine songs on here sound different, they all tie in together nicely.

If you hadn’t noticed yet, my keyword here is beautiful… “When The Haar Rolls In” is simply put enchanting as hell.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.dominorecordco.com
http://www.jamesyorkston.co.uk

Burning Brides - Anhedonia


Burning Brides consists of vocalist/guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist/vocalist Melanie Campbell and drummer Pete Beeman. Together they like to turn up the volume and crank out some high-voltage rock tunes who in their finest moments hold up nicely between Foo Fighters, Soundgarden and Queens Of The Stone Age. This means they have a lot of groove going on along with some cool riffage and plenty of post-punk angst.
There’s a handful of barnburners on “Anhedonia” that should have no problem lifting the roof off of whatever place Burning Brides are playing. What keeps this disc from being really good rather than just good however, are a couple of tracks that don’t seem to go much of anywhere (“Hurry Up”, “This Is A Wave”). Luckily there’s such a thing as the skip button so that I can rush right back to another track with huge guitars which is what they do best.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.burningbrides.com

Staind – The Illusion Of Progress


Staind is back for another round of ‘woe is me’ tales. This time around the album is called “The Illusion Of Progress” but it could’ve just as well been dubbed “Break The Cycle” or “14 Shades Of Grey”. Oh no wait, they already released those albums. It sometimes gets kinda confusing when all of a band’s songs sound exactly the same.
Take some grungy guitars, midtempo rhythms with enough ‘sensitive’ moments and a chorus that bursts out of the speakers and you’re looking at a Staind song. Do you still remember “It’s Been Awhile”? Well, it’s on here again in an acoustic version, just to remind you that yes, this is the same band that had that hit several years ago.
Grown ups singing cliché-riddled lyrics like ‘believe in me / this life isn’t always what it seems’ only to switch to ‘save me’ in the next song in a voice that sounds as if even singing it once costs too much energy… it’s kinda like hearing their buddy Fred Durst rapping about doing it all for the nookie while he’s got teenage girls onstage. Quite sad actually.
Score: 3.5 out of 10
http://www.roadrunnerrecords.co.uk
http://www.staind.com

Jaguar Love – Take Me To The Sea


When the Blood Brothers bled out, vocalist Johnny Whitney and guitarist Cody Votolato looked around for something else to do and found the perfect partner in crime in ex-Pretty Girls Make Graves’ Jay Clark. Together they started Jaguar Love and have now released “Take Me To The Sea”.
With propulsive drums, throbbing bass lines and solid guitarwork, they drop 10 solid songs. The only problem that I have with Jaguar Love is Whitney’s voice which sounds like a tonedeaf 10-year-old-girl who has just been denied candy. It makes listening to “Take Me To The Sea” near impossible. A shame really because with another vocalist I could’ve really liked songs like opener “Highways Of Gold” or “Jaguar Pirates”.
Score: 4 out of 10
http://www.matadorrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/jaguarloveband

Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun


Brian Wilson kept us waiting for 40 years before he finally got out of the sandbox and completed “Smile”. Now ‘barely’ four years later he’s back again with “That Lucky Old Sun”, an album that does not evoke the same sense of surprise as “Smile” did in 2004 but is more than worth at least a couple of spins.
It’s as if time stood still on “That Lucky Old Sun” where Wilson paints a picture of a sunladen Southern California that hasn’t existed in quite some time. It’s still charming as hell though and listening to “Morning Beat” or “Forever She’ll Be My Surfer Girl” is like rediscovering The Beach Boys’ biggest hits while browsing through my dad’s record collection as a kid.
Okay, so I could’ve done without the narratives and even though the chorus in “Mexican Girls” is more than okay, it’ still a song that would be banned even on the Love Boat. But then there’s that instrumental reprise of “That Lucky Old Sun” and “Can’t Wait Too Long” that more than make up for a misstep or two elsewhere on the album.
Kitsch and beauty go hand in hand on this album and it may not all be fun fun fun when Wilson recalls his mental breakdown in the late sixties in “Going Home” (‘at 25, I turned out the light/'Cause I couldn't handle the glare in my tired eyes’) but in the end it does not take away from the fact that “That Lucky Old Sun” is basically one huge feelgood trip.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.capitolrecords.com
http://www.brianwilson.com

Horse Feathers – House With No Home


Justin Ringle, originally from Idaho and then relocated to Orego, is the driving force behind Horse Feathers. Although ‘driving force’ might be a little out of place when talking about Horse Feathers. “House With No Home” is a quiet affair with Ringle’s vocals barely ever rising any louder than a whisper. Backing Ringle up are Peter and Heather Broderick. The first being a multi-instrumentalist, the latter being a cello-player who also contributes backup vocals to most of the songs.
Cuts like “Curs In The Weeds” and “Working Poor” are beautifully hushed songs that will appeal to fans of Iron and Wine or Bon Iver. Call it folk, Americana or alt-country or a combination of the above, fact remains that - even though this is just Horse Feathers’ second release - they’ve already managed to create a heartwarming and melancholic sound that a lot of artists in the genre struggle to achieve. If they ever do that is.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.killrockstars.com
http://www.myspace.com/horsefeathersmusic

Wovenhand – Ten Stones


Wovenhand is of course David Eugene Edwards’ - you might know the guy from 16 Horsepower – project. I like all of his albums I’ve heard so far so it’s not much of a surprise that I like “Ten Stones” as well. Edwards has a sound unlike anything else you’ll hear but the thing is that it does always kinda sounds alike.
As long as he keeps writing songs like “Not One Stone” though, I don’t see why that should be a problem. Like a Celtic Nick Cave, he navigates his soul to the darkes place he can find and then settles there for a stint. Always threatening, hardly ever explosive… hell, the guy even turns a bossanova song by Antonio Carlos Jobim into something that will even scare off the most vile serial killer (“Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars”).
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.soundsfamilyre.com
http://www.wovenhand.com

The New Year – S/T


Matt and Bubba Kadane have already been making music together for the past seventeen years. First with slowcore pioneers Bedhead and now for the last ten years with The New Year.
They’ve taken quite some time to write a new album but after four years of writing and one year of recording (slowcore indeed), these guys are back with a self-titled album.
Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah! Whether you’re listening to the piano ballad that is “MMV” or the dreamy “Seven Days And Seven Nights”, The New Year always shines with shy vocals and a keen sense of melody. If you’re a melancholy soul and want to hear some indie guitars in slowly meandering songs, than “The New Year” is the album you need to pick up.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.touchandgorecords.com
http://www.thenewyear.net

Throw Rag – 2nd Place


The dudes that roam the Salton Sea are back with a new-ish album on Acetate Records. It’s called “2nd Place” and it’s filled with a whoppin’ 17 songs including 12 new tracks and live favorites such as “Bag Of Glue”, “Hang Up” and “Hollywood”.
I’ve been a fan ever since I heard “Desert Shores” and became even more of a fan after having seen them play live. Armed with nasty punkrock, a washboard, a snotty vocalist and an invasion of styles that pop up out of nowhere throughout the album, Throw Rag doesn’t bore for a single second. A little bit of The Damned here (“Space Hump Me”), some blues there and Mexican influences in opener “Si Dios Quiere”, it’s all they need to get me all riled up. And in case you don’t pick up on the fun and the band’s energy after “Desert Shores”, “Mission’s Message”, you still have “Don’t Be Afraid To Pogo” (originally by The Gears) left to whip you up in a frenzy.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.acetate.com
http://www.throwrag.com

Volcano! – Paperwork


Goddammit, what’s that ruckus? Oh, it’s one of Leaf’s latest additions to their roster. If you like experimental pop music, this might be something for you… me, I just hear a dude with a falsetto voice, lots of things vaguely resembling riffs, lots of electronic noises and a drummer who seems to think his own about the whole thing.
Score: 3 out of 10
http://www.theleaflabel.com
http://www.volcanoisaband.com

The Uglysuit – S/T


Opener “Brownblue’s Passing” starts off quietly enough and then trickles along softly with some sweet guitar lines. And then there’s the accordeon that starts off “Chicago”, a song which then blooms open in the chorus and I realize I’m sold.
The Uglysuit are six guys from Oklahoma that have been playing together since their teens and who felt the time was finally right to drop a debut full-length.
The rest of the album is filled with mellow indiepop songs with some postrock floating around. The catchy choruses and sweet guitars keep coming back in pretty much every single song, enhanced here and there with piano. The songs might be a little too drawn out for some but I can see a bright future ahead for The Uglysuit.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.quarterstickrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/theuglysuit

Static Thought - The Motive For Movement


Static Thought from San Francisco figured it out, they’ve got the motive for movement! And according to them it consists of playing streetpunk with a little ska here and some hardcore there and waiting to see what sticks while singing about all the different clichés in the rulebook.

Actually, I shouldn’t be that crude about Static Thought because “The Motive For Movement” is a tightly played and effective album that I can enjoy from start to finish. Unfortunately nothing really sticks afterwards.
For fans of The Unseen and other streetpunk outfits. As for Hellcat, this is already a step forward for them seeing as they have been releasing one crappy album after the next for quite some time now. But we’re still not quite back up there!
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.hell-cat.com
http://www.myspace.com/staticthought

Civet – Hell Hath No Fury


On their Hellcat debut, Civet is out to maim, scar and ultimately kill with anyone who has ever tried to mess with them. The all-female band sounds like a Joan Jett from hell or the Distillers if they were to use more hooks with a little bit of Rancid thrown in because well, they are on Hellcat after all.
As cute and gorgeous as they may look, their songs are hard as nails and gritty as fuck and deserve to be played at maximum volume. Just have a listen to “1989” or “”Bad Luck”… it’s like listening to The Donnas gone bad!
With “Hell Hath No Fury” Civet simply prove that they are a very solid band that can easily kick the living shit out of any testosteron-filled band that thrives and throbs in the seedy underbelly of the punk scene.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.hell-cat.com
http://www.myspace.com/civet

Able Baker Fox – Voices


Once upon a time (about five years ago), two bands came together as one and released an EP on which everyone collaborated. Those two bands were The Casket Lottery and Small Brown Bike. Now those two bands have umm… come together as one even more and formed Able Baker Fox. The line-up consists of Nathan Ellis (The Casket Lottery, Coalesce) and Mike Reed, Ben Reed and Jeff Gensterblum, all three of them formerly of Small Brown Bike.
Expect loads of jangly guitars and a solid vocal tradeoff between Reed and Ellis. Both bands had a very distinctive sound and somehow Able Baker Fox manages to come up with something different but which at the same time is reminiscent of both their former outfits.
From opener “October” to the closing track - and album highlight - “Whispering”, the band cranks out one solid melodic yet edgy song after the other, making “Voices” an album that stands on its own two feet and doesn’t really need the ‘featuring former members of…’ introduction.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.arcticrodeorecordings.com
http://www.ablebakerfox.com

Chesterfield – Death Grip


I only knew Chesterfield as a brand of cigarettes, but after having heard “Death Grip” I can tell you that the band Chesterfield is equally lethal as cigarette smoke. Behind the cheesy album cover, you’ll find ten punkrock songs in a style that you just don’t hear often enough these days… mostly because well, it ain’t the nineties no more and skatepunks around the world have moved on to something new.
The songs on here are catchy and melodic and come with a hardcore edge… think 88 Fingers Louie, a less technical Strung Out or the tragically shortlived Zero Down. All of which are great names to be compared to, but when a band manages to write cuts like “Questioning It All” or “Easier” I think those comparisons are more than called for.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.mentalrecords.net

Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us


Death Vessel is the latest techmetal band to emerge from Sweden. Oh no, wait… it’s actually Joel Thibodeau’s project. You know… the guy that sings like a little girl? He previously released “Stay Close” in 2005, got signed to Sub Pop in 2006 and then needed two years to write the follow-up.
“Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us” is filled with folk songs that occasionally remind me of Iron & Wine and are outfitted with arrangements that are as intimate as they are intricate. Thibodeau and the other musicians used every single instrument they could get their hands on including things called a flukulele and a cornet. Hell, there are even people playing on wine glasses and railroad spikes at some point.
It all sounds mighty interesting and it’s pretty music when you’re listening to it but once the album is over, I’m not remembering too much of it. Maybe I’ll just have to listen to it one more time to find out if that is still true.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.subpop.com
http://www.myspace.com/deathvessel

Damien Jurado – Caught In The Trees


Seattle-based Damien Jurado already has quite the back catalog with eight full-lengths and he simply keeps plowing on. With “Caught In The Trees” for example, on which he strays away from third-person narratives and turns to something that at least feels like it’s more personal.

Another difference is that the music is more of a group effort than on past releases with longtime contributor Eric Fisher laying down some tasteful guitar lines and Jenna Conrad helping out with string arrangements and backing vocals that suit Jurado’s voice perfectly.
Damien Jurado has always had a knack for writing melancholic tunes with dark lyrics. Even when the music feels kinda happy, the lyrics are not. And they only get darker when the music is not less happy. “Caskets” is one of those songs that Elliott Smith unfortunately never got round to writing and “Sheets” is simply put, beautiful. As is most of the album come to think of it. Guess I’m just a sucker for clinically depressed music.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.secretlycanadian.com
http://www.damienjurado.com

The Human Abstract – Midheaven


What does a band do when it loses one of its key members? Call it a day and maybe start another band sooner or later or replace said member? The Human Abstract opted for the second option and traded in lead guitarist A.J. Minette for Andrew Tapley and then proceeded by adding Sean Leonard on keyboard.
While the band is still as technically skilled as they were on their debut (what? you mean they didn’t start playing worse?), much of the band’s heavier moments have been trimmed away leaving a weird mix of classical rock, progressive metal and screamo. Kinda like a progressive, techier version of Avenged Sevenfold.
Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much. I’m still confused about “Midheaven” just like I’m still confused over Protest The Hero’s albums. Both bands can play, they both cram a shitload of ideas in every single song and while some of those ideas are really, really good, I can’t be bothered to stay focused.
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.hopelessrecords.com
http://www.thehumanabstract.com

There For Tomorrow – S/T


In between all the breakdown-laden metalcore, self-indulgent indie rock and serious singer/songwriter music I’m subjected to on a daily basis, I’m happy to find an unpretentious poppunk release every now and again. There For Tomorrow is one of those pleasant surprises and their self-titled 7-song EP is pure earcandy. Hooky guitars, catchy melodies and and a pleasant voice are all the ingredients I need to call this a solid release.
I am however obligated to tell you that the songs kinda tend to sound the same and yadda yadda yadda… fact remains that fans of Saosin will love this release!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.hopelessrecords.com
http://www.therefortomorrow.com

H2O – Live August 19, 2002 – The Bowery Collection


The latest installment in the Bowery Collection, is a fine set played by NYHC stalwarts H2O. They played a great set on that August night including but not limited to “F.T.T.W.”, “Thicker Than Water” and “Spirit Of ‘84”.
The sound is pretty good, the energy levels are soaring skyhigh and by buying this disc, you’re supporting the Hilly Krystal Foundation for Musicians and Artists… there’s simply no going wrong here with another fine recording straight from the soundboards of CBGB.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.mvdaudio.com
http://www.h2ogo.com

Sparkadia – Postcards


Sparkadia is an Australian band that until very recently was completely unknown to me. With “Postcards” they made a favorable impression though and as far as I’m concerned we can stay penpals from now on.
They play a kind of decent pop/rock that might be a little too sugary at times (“Connected”… Beirut meets Radiohead anyone?) but when they whip out a sunny cut like “Too Much To Do” or “Morning Light”, I’m sold! Or what about “Animals”, which shows a more rocking Sparkadia? Love it!
I’m not yet completely sold as a fan, there are too many ups and downs for that to happen, but I’m fairly sure that with a little more time these guys are going to come up with a truly amazing album. Why? Because they already write catchy songs, have found a great set of pipes in Alex Burnett and the backing vocals by Tiffany Preece more than once lift the song to a higher level.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.arkrecordings.com
http://www.sparkadia.com

Trapt – Only Through The Pain


If you’re waiting for another radio-friendly modern rock/pop album that is completely overproduced and has layer upon layer of guitars and vocals that no band can ever reproduce live, then check out “Only Through The Pain”.
If you like all of the bands on the Wind-Up roster, then check out “Only Through The Pain”.
If you need an album that you can listen to with your mom without her being offended, check out “Only Through The Pain”.
If you’re looking for an album that’s so painfully middle of the road and without even a hint of originality, then check out “Only Through The Pain”.
For everyone else, stay as far away as as possible from this album.
Score: 3 out of 10
http://www.elevenseven.net
http://www.trapt.com

After The Burial – Rareform


After The Burial are the latest entry in the whole tech-metal/death metal scene and on “Rareform” they prove they’ve got the technical skills to blend right in. The double bass blasts away merrily up to the point where I’m convinced that the drummer is still kicking that damn pedal in his sleep while the guitars are shredding and vocalist Grant Luoma is busy trying to find his way home by clawing his way through the songs, screaming, grunting, screeching and yelling.

There are plenty of parts to be found throughout the album’s eight songs that’ll blindside you - the same kinda parts that Between The Buried And Me like to throw in when you’re not looking - which gives the whole just that little bit extra. If you’re into this kinda mayhem, do the band and yourself a favor and pick up a copy of “Rareform”.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.sumerianrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/aftertheburial

Emiliana Torrini – Me And Armini


Emiliana Torrini did some growing since 2004’s “Fisherman’s Woman”. Musically that is. Whereas that album was filled with mostly fragile acoustic songs like opener “Fireheads” on her latest release, you wouldn’t have found the happily bouncing reggae-influenced title track on that release. Logically, because that album wasn’t called “Me And Armini”. Or that song where she’s declaring her love with a heart that’s beating like a jungle drum. Or “Gun”, which is built around a menacing guitar riff and would fit perfectly on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack if you ask me.
No matter which style she has her songs reeling into, Torrini always has the perfect voice to go with every single one of them. The half-Icelandic, half-Italian beauty did an awesome job on “Me And Armini” as far as I’m concerned and will no doubt get a whole lot bigger with this album. If you hurry, you’ll still be among those who can say they already listened to her captivating voice before she got huge. Not physically huge though, that would be a shame.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
http://www.roughtraderecords.com
http://www.emilianatorrini.com

16.9.08

Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing


Fuck Buttons is a duo from England that has a lot of people talking. Some claim it's too inviting to be called noise while others seem to think it's too loud to be considered pop. Pop-noise it is then. I don't really care too much about labels, as long as the music is good. And that is definitely the case on "Street Horrrsing".

Opener "Sweet Love For Planet Earth" opens sweetly enough with some clocks but then the distorted synths and screams come in after a while and take over. Those same synths are back in "Okay Let's Talk About Magic", a 10-minute long mindfuck that - when played loud enough - will no doubt send one of your colleagues on a killing spree. During which you can play "Ribs Out" which with its tribal sounds would make a fine soundtrack. And of course you could play "Bright Tomorrow" at the funeral a week later. It would do great there with the organ sounds.

Anyway, "Street Horrrsing" was recorded by Mogwai's John Cummings and mastered by Shellac's Bob Weston which should give you an even better idea of what to expect of Fuck Buttons. It might not be equally suited for everyone and maybe it's not innovative enough for all the noiselovers around the world but that doesn't take away from the fact that these two guys released a pretty cool album with "Street Horrrsing".
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.atprecordings.com

The Rascals - Rascalize


Miles Kane is probably better known as half of The Last Shadow Puppets, his side-project with Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys. But he also stars as the leading man in The Rascals, a band where the guitars do the talking rather than string sections. On "Rascalize" they churn out twelve psychedelic rock jams that are not awe-inspiring but entertaining nonetheless for fans of The Coral or The Inspiral Carpets with "The Glorified Collector", "Does Your Husband Know That You're On The Run?" and lead single "Freakbeat Phantom" functioning as the album's highlights.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.deltasonic.com

Negative - Karma Killer


Negative had a lot going against 'em as soon as I held the album in my hands. They're from Finland for one thing which is the land of a 1000 musical atrocities as far as I'm concerned. They worked with producer Mikko Karmila, who previously fiddled knobs for two of those musical atrocities, Children of Bodom and Nightwish. And these guys play glam rock for crying out loud! No, I didn't hold any high hopes for "Karma Killer".

So imagine my surprise when they cranked out one bombastic chorus after the other catchy song with the punky "Motherfucker (Like You)" as the highlight of the album. Prejudice is such an ugly thing and I promise I'll try my hardest from now on to never hold 'em against anything ever again. Of course, that doesn't take away from the fact that like Him, this is one of those albums you hate to love and while happily ticking off one musical cliché after the next, I couldn't help myself but sing along with at least half of the songs on here.
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.edel.com

Sky Eats Airplane - S/T


Sky Eats Airplane already has two things going for them right off the bat. First, there is the matter of their band name which is catchy and funny. And then there's the fact that one of the guys in the band is named Lee Duck. How cool a last name is that?
Anyway, this Fort Worth, TX based outfit plays the kind of metalcore that starts and stops a lot and is built upon a solid base of jazz progressions on which they then dump a shitload of electronics. Ever had two sites open at the same time with music playing on both of them? That's kind of the feeling I had while listening to this band's eponymous release. The way they switch between poppy parts and metalcore outbursts... I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around it at first. But then I got back to the 6-minute long "Transparent" and a couple of other track tracks and started to dig them. It's not an album that I'll listen to a lot but at least it's better than I first gave it credit for.
Sky Eats Airplane may not be the best thing you'll hear this year but at least they're not a demonic band which is something that caused many a sleepless night for me until I found this thread:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080824164502AAZokrb
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.equalvision.com

My America Is Watching Tigers Die - Stone Age


Pissed off, angry beyond belief, furious... these are a couple of terms that could be used to describe My America Is Watching Tigers Die. But they wouldn't do the band's sound any justice. "Stone Age" is filled with the kind of songs that are intense as say, fuck. Yeah, that's it... intense as fuck. The sludgy production suits the songs perfectly and while most of the band is welcoming you into their world, vocalist David Rushman is already working on ripping your skin to shreds with his maniacal screams. I'm normally not too keen on all things Converge, but I'm seriously digging "Stone Age" and I for one am happy that these dudes found a way to vent all their frustrations through their music because otherwise a lot of innocent lives would no doubt be wasted in the Delaware area.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
http://www.plutorecords.com

Kimya Dawson – Alphabutt


Tired of hearing your kids yelp the same inane kids’ songs over and over again? Do yourself and your kids a favor and pick up “Alphabutt”, which is anti-folk hero Kimya Dawson’t latest collection of songs.
Anally fixated is one way to describe the music which deals with butts or doo-doo most of the time. Jangly and armed with a warped sense of humor would be another. Either way, your kids will love it and will sing the slightly irreverent lyrics along in no time. Just like Dawson’s contributions on the Juno soundtrack, the songs and especially the lyrics are endearing and witty making “Alphabutt” a fun yet sometimes slightly weird listening experience
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.krecs.com
http://www.kimyadawson.com

Chrome Division – Booze, Broads And Beelzebub


“Booze, Broads and Beelzebub”… rarely do you get an album that sums up the core message so clearly. What Chrome Division does on album number two is the exact same thing Motörhead has already been doing since time began. Play loud rock n roll music with lyrics about girls, drinking, drinking girls, the devil, devilish girls, bars, fights and barfights about drinking girls. It all sounds nice enough though yet it doesn’t really make much of a lasting impression. Someone send these guys on tour with Volbeat and watch a drunk crowd go nuts!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.nuclearblast.de
http://www.chromedivision.com

Jeff Loomis – Zero Order Phase


Now that Nevermore is taking a break, it’s time for some solo projects. We already had vocalist Warrel Dane’s solo effort and with “Zero Order Phase”, it’s now guitarist Jeff Loomis’ turn to take matters into his own hands.
Loomis is an excellent guitarist and he likes to demonstrate that on all of the songs on the album. Opener “Shouting Fire At A Funeral” starts things off in a great way with a mellow melodic riff that could’ve come straight off of Joe Satriani’s “The Extremist”. Most of the time though Loomis never strays too far from the Nevermore sound. Which can be seen as a negative because what’s the point of a solo album if you’re just gonna keep on playing the exact same thing? And I have to say that a completely instrumental album, is a bit too much to keep me focused. I keep waiting for Warrel Dane’s vocals to come in to make the whole thing more diverse. Unfortunately that never happens. So in the end you’re stuck with an album that is a must for all the Nevermore fans but is less interesting than a Nevermore album for everyone else.
Score: 6.5 out of 10
http://www.centurymedia.de
http://www.jeffloomis.com

Man Without Wax – Anchor


Burn the last of those flannel shirts and go get a haircut while you’re at it! The Seattle music scene has changed a lot since grunge rolled into town and that statement has now again been proven by Man Without Wax. On “Anchor” these guys sound like a band that has been going at it for some time already but instead they’re just getting their feet wet with what is in fact their debut.
With a production job by Casey Bates (Chiodos, Portugal The Man), you know you can expect some bombastic rock and he once again does not fail to deliver. Opener “You Pull Me Through Time” sounds like something Muse just didn’t get round to writing yet while first single “Kansas City Shuffle” sounds like a My Chemical Romance song actually worth hearing. “Volcano”-era Gatsby’s American Dream is a name that came to mind a bunch of times while listening to most of the songs on “Anchor” and you know that’s not a bad thing!
Armed with upbeat rhythms, two guitars, lots of vocal diversity and a whole lot of keyboard sounds in all the right places, Man Without Wax wrote an album that races by in no time leaving you wanting only more.
Score: 8 out of 10
http://www.eyeballrecords.com
http://www.myspace.com/manwithoutwax

Arkangel – Is The Enemy


After four years of silence (even though that is relative when it comes to Arkangel), one of the first Belgian metalcore bands is back with a new album. “Arkangel Is The Enemy” is filled with the kind of brutal stuff that these guys have become known for over the years and I have to say it’s a step forward again compared to “Hope You Die By Overdoes”. Even though the artwork is pretty frigging ugly.
They once again start things off in a high gear and never look back except for the occasional melodic part. This is one big trip back to the metalcore sound of the mid 90s with Slayer riffs, plenty of double bass drum action and of course Baldur’s insane voice. If you like your metalcore dark and sinister, then Arkangel will do the trick just fine!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.gsrmusic.com
http://www.myspace.com/privatehell

Daymares - Toothless & Fanged MCD


After Elvis Deluxe, this is another pleasant surprise from Poland for me. So not only do they have beautiful women there, they also make good music... I might have to book me a holiday! On this 6-song release, Daymares cranks out some hardhitting violence that will permanently fuck up your hearing in no time. With a sound that holds up between a sleazy Entombed fucking an even sleazier Cursed with bands like Tragedy and High On Fire cheering them on, this disc sounds the best when you crank it all the way up.

Doesn't matter whether it's crusty hardcore or gritty death n roll that you're looking for, Daymares does 'em both equally well on "Toothless & Fanged" and close the whole thing off with a Neurosis cover of "Life On Your Knees". Good stuff!
Score: 7 out of 10
http://www.myspace.com/getbyrecs

3.9.08

Gob Squad – Watch The Cripple Dance


Denmark’s Gob Squad doesn’t reinvent punkrock on “Watch The Cripple Dance” but they did manage to write an album that’s catchy and energetic and where most of the songs house a catchy chorus or melodic hook. For a couple of reason I keep thinking of Billy Talent when listening to this disc which I would’ve liked a lot more if it weren’t for some unfortunate inclusions which would’ve better been left out (“Stand Up And Fight” for example).
Score: 6 out of 10
http://www.mascotrecords.com
http://www.gobsquad.dk